Matt Cassel to start at QB for Vikings on Sunday
With Cassel's stock higher than anyone ever could have imagined and Tom Brady expected to make a full recovery, the Patriots cashed in on their No. 2 quarterback by trading him to Chiefs for a second-round pick. Cassel did enjoy one solid season in Kansas City, but finished his Chiefs career with a 77.5 passer rating (66.7 in his final season).
If you have been wondering where Cassel has ended up since the Chiefs' acquisition of Alex Smith, the answer is in Minnesota to backup Christian Ponder for the Vikings. A veteran backup makes plenty of sense for the Vikings, as Ponder is an often raw-looking third-year player who looks to be on a short leash after showing little signs of improvement since entering the league.
Being relegated to a backup role was nothing new for Cassel, but the Vikings announced that he will get yet another chance to prove that he is a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. Ponder has missed practice this week with a rib injury, and Cassel has been taking all of the first-team reps in his absence. The VIkings announced Friday that it will be Cassel who starts behind center when the team takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Cassel's recent appearances as a starter have gone pretty poorly - he has not topped a 68.3 passer rating in any of his past six starts. In Minnesota, however, he'll have a strong offensive line, an elite running back, and some exciting weapons to utilize in the passing game. His presence, as opposed to Ponder's, should not really have a significantly positive or negative effect on the Vikings' offense, nor should it have much of an affect on the production of the team's skill position players.
If Cassel shows well in his spot start, he could very well keep the starting gig going forward. The Vikings are 0-3 this season and Ponder has posted a 65.9 passer rating. This already appeared to be a make or break year for Ponder, and he has only disappointed thus far. The Vikings are likely ready to move on from the 2011 12th overall pick if they have a viable replacement, and they are hoping that Cassel can be that replacement.